This post is going to be about how much I love my kid and how wonderful I think she is and all that annoying stuff that drives other people crazy. Feel free to move along or to stick around and read it, knowing that I know that my child has flaws, but right now, at this very moment, I love her so stinking much I feel like I could burst!
Many people comment on how quiet my daughter is and how she doesn't like to be hugged and oh, how shy she is (I know people don't mean anything bad about the word shy, but it really is an annoying word, because so many people use it without really knowing if the person is actually shy or gasp - if they just don't want to talk to you!). I think Sophie is perfect - just the way she is.
She's a kid who observes...EVERYTHING. When she was in preschool we use to joke that she would be happier on the other side of the one-way mirror, where she could watch the children play. We use to pull up to playgrounds in the neighborhood and Soph would sigh and say, "Let's go somewhere else, there are kids here." Thought in my head? "Um yeah, kids and playgrounds usually go together." We now joke about this, because that was Soph at that age and later she became the kid who didn't want to go anywhere unless she could bring a friend or there were going to be kids at the event.
Soph did have a few good friends in Ann Arbor - the boys she played tornado with at preschool and a neighbor, Eun. When we moved to San Antonio Soph had a few more friends - the brothers in our neighborhood who liked to play with Soph on the big rocks down the road and a couple school friends. At the age of 6 Soph had to make another move (and just to take away any guessing, there's another one coming up...) to Logan, UT, where I was certain she would never make any friends, because everyone told us how the Mormons don't let their kids play with the non-Mormon kids. Well, those people were wrong!
Utah is where Soph really hit the friendship lottery. She had a friend over nearly every day - a variety, too. Kids from the neighborhood, kids from school and kids whose parents we knew - all great kids with very active imaginations, like Soph. They hunted for aliens, played in the tent in our yard, drew a spaceship in Soph's room and tried to sell their artwork on our street corner. Good times. A few friends were really good friends - these kids frequented our house more than the others and they were the kids we took with us on outings or who spent the night.
So when we told Soph we were moving, again, it was very hard and sad for our girl. She is quiet. She is deliberate in what she says in front of others. She is not the kid to walk into a room and announce, "Look at me! I'm here!" She did not want to be the new kid again, she did not want to leave her comfort zone, she did not want to say good-bye.
We had a going away party for Soph and her friends - a neat mix of kids who are important to our daughter and who didn't necessarily play with each other on a regular basis, but who all came out to bid adieu to our kid and to have one last hurrah! It was wonderful.
We've now been in Jackson 7 months and Soph told me the other day she's still sad not to have a best friend. (Darn it all, I'm crying as I write this...) Here's the thing I want Sophie to know - forever -
What you have done - being the new kid again, seeking out a person to hang out with at recess or strolling the playground alone - those are tough things. Some adults will never have to be in that situation, they'll always know someone wherever they go. What makes me so proud of you is that you put yourself out there and keep trying. I'm sorry you had to leave your very good friends behind and I'm so glad you stay in touch with them and have playdates using Skype - that is so cool! I still think you will meet a very good friend here, not someone who will replace your other very good friends, but someone who will be added to the wonderful bouquet of people you know and love. Hang in there, Soph and keep doing what you're doing.
On the selfish side, Soph, I'm enjoying this time I get with you - time after school and on weekends, when we go for walks, play games, work on homework or drive around Jackson. In about 7 years you'll be off on your greatest adventure and all these experiences you've had will make you stronger. My hope is that you know you can go anywhere and create your own happiness - it is not outside of you, it is within you, though the truth is, Sophie, that you bring so much happiness to my life - and although you are my child, you are outside of me. I feel sad that you had to leave behind your good friends, but I know of sadness and I know it doesn't last forever if you make the choice to keep trying and I see you making that choice every day. Soph, you rock.
I try to always ask Soph if it is ok to post about her - because her life is her life, not mine. She said it was ok.